# Thread: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

1. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate
Here are those thoughts on the relationships between Technology Growth numbers, as promised. If anything needs further explanation, just let me know.

Spoiler: Tech Numbers
-The base level of tech growth + lab present growth < ban penalty
-Which means that both those numbers must be < ban penalty
-base tech growth + push tech > ban penalty
-base tech growth + push tech ?? ban penalty + confiscation
-I propose that it is a narrow <
-Justification: Defender's advantage is a thing. But also, it would feel janky if your basic defense action was not able to match an opponent with an equal number of units.
-X number of adopted neighbors + Base ?? ban penalty
-Keep in mind: The average country can have a maximum of 3 links.
-I want to propose the following results:
-X = 1, <
-X = 2, >
-X = 3+, >>
-X units with adopted tech ?? ban penalty
-The lower X is, the easier it is to unintentionaly spread tech as you travel through neutral countries
-This will also depend on play. The point of this is twofold:
-In flashpoints, you're accidentally spreading technology.
-It gives you another way to tip the balance in a Ban + Confiscate scenario
-Here are some results that I will initially propose
-X = 1, <
-X = 2, <
-X = 3, =/=
-X = 4, >?
-push tech ?? confiscation
-We know that base tech growth < ban penalty
-We (are pretty sure we) know that base tech growth + push tech (narrowly) < ban penalty + confiscate
-We know that base tech growth + push tech > ban penalty
-Ergo, base tech growth + push tech - ban penalty < confiscate
-I think that push tech has to be bigger than confiscation, such that the addition of both to the first equation narrows the gap, but does not fill it completely

That's not a bad idea. It'd be a bit janky to do remotely, unless we could find a way to screenshare/mouseshare, but that could work.
Not sure about mouse share, but any regular Google hangout can be done with a screenshare window

2. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Hey Amish, with my upcoming leave bearing down on me I'm not able to give this the immediate thought it needs. I'll keep the questions in the back of my mind and will get back to you as soon as I've got a breather.

3. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by Thanqol
Hey Amish, with my upcoming leave bearing down on me I'm not able to give this the immediate thought it needs. I'll keep the questions in the back of my mind and will get back to you as soon as I've got a breather.
I sent Amish some playtest notes. Be sure you take something to write with on your travels, you might find inspiration in the middle of an airport or a train.

4. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by Thanqol
Hey Amish, with my upcoming leave bearing down on me I'm not able to give this the immediate thought it needs. I'll keep the questions in the back of my mind and will get back to you as soon as I've got a breather.
Aye, no worries.

I have enough to keep me busy in the meanwhile, and it's struck me that I can probably get a general feel for what forbiddances in the AI might look like. "Don't take this particular action", "don't do X when Y", and so on. It'd be enough to keep it in consideration in the AI design.

Since it'll be a bit before we can have a set of Technology numbers to playtest, I'm taking the time to further refine the roadmap, and try out an interesting AI design I read about. (You can check it out here.) After a day or two of design and basic implementation, I'm cautiously optimistic about this one. I'm going to see if I can recreate my stanky prototype AI using this new method, and hopefully do it much quicker.

5. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Day 2533: Sons of Ambition

I repainted my initial set of Primaris boyz - and that's it for repainting! I am now totally happy with everything I currently have on my shelf and will not strip and repaint any more models. We've done the final back-loop and from now on it's always forwards. I fit this in because it was a quick project just before I leave the country.

The next project is going to be Dark Eldar. Looking forward to it, it's going to be going back to the crazy freehand I did with the Eldar and the objective is going to be to really, really push my stuff to the next level.

See you in a month!

Spoiler

6. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by Thanqol
Day 2533: Sons of Ambition

I repainted my initial set of Primaris boyz - and that's it for repainting! I am now totally happy with everything I currently have on my shelf and will not strip and repaint any more models. We've done the final back-loop and from now on it's always forwards. I fit this in because it was a quick project just before I leave the country.

The next project is going to be Dark Eldar. Looking forward to it, it's going to be going back to the crazy freehand I did with the Eldar and the objective is going to be to really, really push my stuff to the next level.

See you in a month!

Spoiler

I am consistently flabbergasted at how good these models turn out. If you showed these to me in a store, I'd easily be bamboozled into thinking they were fresh out of an official-looking box.

********************************************

The Post-Tinkering AI Report

Holy crap.

My original, terrible design took nearly a month to throw together, it was complex to the point where debugging was headache-inducing, much of its behavior was poorly hacked together, and it was so tailor-made to this basic scenario map that absolutely none of the code would be suitable for other maps. By comparison, the new design is simple, easy to debug, easy to modify, capable of changing behaviors as the game goes on, applicable to any map design, and it took me four days to build.

Let me repeat that. In four days, I replicated > 90% of the functionality of my terrible design that took a month to build.

It still needs work, don't get me wrong. I still don't have a hard-and-fast system in place to handle forbidden actions, and there's many goals and behaviors to write. But once they're written, it's just a matter of refining them. Giving the AI better ways of accomplishing the goals it sets for itself. What's more, by landing on a good, solid design now, we may have just saved ourselves months of development time.

With that in mind, Thanqol! I know you are still on your trip, so I am not expecting an answer right away. But I'm revising the priority of things that I'd like from you. Now that the AI is in a better place, I don't need that list of AI forbiddances quite so quickly. Instead, what we need now most of all is a first pass on the numbers for the Technology system. Play around with that spreadsheet, and find some numbers you're happy with. Doesn't have to be perfect, just has to be good enough; we'll refine them further as we go.

If you're not in a position where you can do that, then check out the thoughts I posted earlier on the numbers and how they relate to each other, as well as those thoughts on the Technology system in general, and let me know if your head's in a different place with any of that. Also, let me know if you had any estimates/expectations for how long certain tasks would take (for instance, how long it takes a player to spread a Technology to their own Country). With all of that, I can throw some numbers together myself and continue development.

7. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

One other item, hopefully minor. In going over the thread, I've just realized that we never actually laid out how Advanced Research works. We know that it's a way to add effects to Technology, we know that some Technologies will have Superweapon Potential as a choice of effect, but beyond that we're a little vague. So here's a few questions about the whole process:

1) Is the player picking a specific effect - such as "positive bonus for X action" - or are they picking from one of a number of randomly generated effects?

2) If the latter, are they always offered the same effects for the same Technology? Or will they be offered a new list every time?

3) Does the player get to choose the effect before or after the research is complete? In other words, do they pick the effect they want as they are setting up the action, or after the action is complete?

8. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate
I am consistently flabbergasted at how good these models turn out. If you showed these to me in a store, I'd easily be bamboozled into thinking they were fresh out of an official-looking box.

Thanks so much. I'm dying to get back to it.

:D

With that in mind, Thanqol! I know you are still on your trip, so I am not expecting an answer right away. But I'm revising the priority of things that I'd like from you. Now that the AI is in a better place, I don't need that list of AI forbiddances quite so quickly. Instead, what we need now most of all is a first pass on the numbers for the Technology system. Play around with that spreadsheet, and find some numbers you're happy with. Doesn't have to be perfect, just has to be good enough; we'll refine them further as we go.

If you're not in a position where you can do that, then check out the thoughts I posted earlier on the numbers and how they relate to each other, as well as those thoughts on the Technology system in general, and let me know if your head's in a different place with any of that. Also, let me know if you had any estimates/expectations for how long certain tasks would take (for instance, how long it takes a player to spread a Technology to their own Country). With all of that, I can throw some numbers together myself and continue development.
Please re-issue the spreadsheet to me most ASAPly, I've lost it. But be aware that braining numbers is likely not a thing I'll likely be doing super much of.

That said, your basic analysis in the Tech Numbers spoiler looks good. I think that in general Tech should be easier to spread than to block, and actively difficult to remove entirely. I think that a way to put this is that if tech goes from 0-100, then all the effects apply at 50 but it can keep raising in saturation until it hits 100 and gets a bonus to growth when above 50.

So basically, it's a bit of a slog to un-invent the combustion engine, but it can be done - as the world economy is showing.

Does that answer that particular question?

Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate
One other item, hopefully minor. In going over the thread, I've just realized that we never actually laid out how Advanced Research works. We know that it's a way to add effects to Technology, we know that some Technologies will have Superweapon Potential as a choice of effect, but beyond that we're a little vague. So here's a few questions about the whole process:

1) Is the player picking a specific effect - such as "positive bonus for X action" - or are they picking from one of a number of randomly generated effects?
Specific effect. I see no reason to limit the player's ability to control the tech totally in this instance.

3) Does the player get to choose the effect before or after the research is complete? In other words, do they pick the effect they want as they are setting up the action, or after the action is complete?
Before. I think that once a player starts working towards an Advanced slot:
A) that player can't also work at the 2cnd Advanced slot for that tech at the same time
B) The other player can research the newly created ??? bubble that has just been added to the tech, potentially finding out through research what the other player is trying to add before they implement adding it.

So you can make a defensive play for a key tech if you're prepared to throw emergency resources at it.

9. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by Thanqol
Please re-issue the spreadsheet to me most ASAPly, I've lost it. But be aware that braining numbers is likely not a thing I'll likely be doing super much of.

That said, your basic analysis in the Tech Numbers spoiler looks good. I think that in general Tech should be easier to spread than to block, and actively difficult to remove entirely. I think that a way to put this is that if tech goes from 0-100, then all the effects apply at 50 but it can keep raising in saturation until it hits 100 and gets a bonus to growth when above 50.

So basically, it's a bit of a slog to un-invent the combustion engine, but it can be done - as the world economy is showing.

Does that answer that particular question?
It does, aye. From a mechanics standpoint, it's easier to block Tech than it is to spread Tech, but the attacker wins out eventually by virtue of having more tools at their disposal. And once the Tech has been adopted, roles reverse and the defender is now trying to counter-attack the Tech that's invaded their land. I should be able to throw together some numbers that satisfy these conditions.

Here's the spreadsheet, with a few sets of numbers already in place. While you used 0 -> 100, I did the less sensible thing and went from 0 -> 2.

Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate
Here is the spreadsheet. I have my own copy, so no worries if you mess with the values here. Top-left are the raw, growth-per-turn values for the various components of the Technology system. On the top-right, there are a bunch of relatively common scenarios. The number next to them will represent the number of turns required for a country to go from 0 -> 1 (AKA 0 to Adopted.) If the number is negative, then that means the Technology is declining instead of growing. If it helps to visualize what the numbers mean, the negative value represents the number of turns required for a country to go from 2 -> 1 (AKA Fully Saturated to just barely Adopted)
Now, the bonus to growth for having adopted a Tech is a new factor, one that isn't in that spreadsheet, but I think it's a good idea. The numbers for how long it takes to initially adopt a Tech should be accurate though.

Originally Posted by Thanqol
Specific effect. I see no reason to limit the player's ability to control the tech totally in this instance.
Makes sense. Should they have the ability to control specific percentages, or should they just choose whether it's a positive or negative effect?

Originally Posted by Thanqol
Before. I think that once a player starts working towards an Advanced slot:
A) that player can't also work at the 2cnd Advanced slot for that tech at the same time
B) The other player can research the newly created ??? bubble that has just been added to the tech, potentially finding out through research what the other player is trying to add before they implement adding it.

So you can make a defensive play for a key tech if you're prepared to throw emergency resources at it.
Gotcha. This also tells me that there's only two Advanced Research slots per Tech. (And given that there's only, like, five Labs on the map, research time is already a valuable thing.)

10. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate
Makes sense. Should they have the ability to control specific percentages, or should they just choose whether it's a positive or negative effect?
Advanced tech should advertise exactly what it's going to do. It's the opposite to the discovery-based system of regular tech, it's nice and predictable. Not the ability to change percentages but instead like Civ's religious bonii list, like 'this will increase happiness by 5%' or whatevs.

11. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by Thanqol
Advanced tech should advertise exactly what it's going to do. It's the opposite to the discovery-based system of regular tech, it's nice and predictable. Not the ability to change percentages but instead like Civ's religious bonii list, like 'this will increase happiness by 5%' or whatevs.
I think there's something here I'm not getting; how does this mesh with your last post and the idea of totally controlling the Tech? Is there a fixed list of Advanced Research options for all games always that they're choosing from here?

12. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate
I think there's something here I'm not getting; how does this mesh with your last post and the idea of totally controlling the Tech? Is there a fixed list of Advanced Research options for all games always that they're choosing from here?
You can choose a +Production boost, but the amount of that +Production will always be, like, 5. With a random tech it might be 1, 5, 10, etc. The advanced tech you know what you're getting, you don't roll the dice.

13. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by Thanqol
You can choose a +Production boost, but the amount of that +Production will always be, like, 5. With a random tech it might be 1, 5, 10, etc. The advanced tech you know what you're getting, you don't roll the dice.
Gotcha, sense makes. I worry this may be a little too plain, but it's something we'll figure out through playtesting. If nothing else, this version is simple to implement.

14. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

I am back from my trip. I brought all of the jetlag with me as a souvinier.

Two models that I did before I left but somehow never photographed:
Spoiler

One dude who I did today. I am absurdly happy with how this guy turned out. Feels so good to scratch that painting itch.

Spoiler

That's all the brain I got.

15. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Day 2367: Off Brand

Finished my discount knockoff Custodes.
Spoiler

16. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Day 2397: Infinity

Painting yellow is a son of a bitch. Also assembling metal is a disappointment of a son. Also I apologize for my crummy cell phone pix, I'll get something better done when I'm finished these dudes

Spoiler

Bonus: Art

Spoiler

18. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Inconveniently, imgur has decided to block this website across the board, which has made years of accumulated image posting mysteriously disappear. Rude.

In the future I'll be linking to whatever offsite host I use rather than embedding but I'm not going to do an immediate re-upload. My current plan is to wait until November-December and then set up a quality lightbox with a decent camera and take good photographs of my entire back catalogue of produced miniatures.

In the meantime my current huge project has been producing terrain. Terrain is thankless grunt work. Even if it looks good - and some of the things I've done look GREAT - it's ultimately not particularly exciting and will only really come together when the entire board is finished. Which is primarily delayed by the fact that the temperature stubbornly refuses to hit the 15 degrees it needs to be for me to prime it.

Also terrain uses a hella lot of paint. Many paint bottles are still good after a full year of significant use but one session on the terrain knocks out two full bottles.

19. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Long overdue status update: I'm putting the finishing touches on the next playable prototype. I spent a lot of time on the AI for this one, only to realize that my time would be better spent getting something playable with two players, and I could just take the role of the AI. Anarion - and anybody else who wants a go at this - I'll be in touch with you once the game's ready.

I've noticed a strange balancing act in figuring out how long it should take labs to research/advanced research. If those actions take too long, then interactions with the Technology system will be too slow and ponderous to be any good. If these actions resolve too quickly, then the player won't ever feel the pressure of limited information. To complicate matters, the Steal Technology action is a way to basically use your opponent's research time as your own, so long as your agents don't get caught. (I'm of the opinion that Steal Technology - as a baseline - should at a minimum take as long a time to resolve as the basic Research Trait action. If stealing info is too effective, then again, no hidden information, the game goes kaput.) So you have to also balance with the Steal Tech strat in mind.

To that end: Thanqol, did you have any vision as to how long research should take?

(For a fun experiment, at some point I want to give every Technology two mystery starting traits, bumping up the max number of traits from 3 to 4 accordingly. It's a relatively easy change that should yield some fascinating results.)

Originally Posted by Thanqol
Inconveniently, imgur has decided to block this website across the board, which has made years of accumulated image posting mysteriously disappear. Rude.
Have you found an alternative image hosting site? I've been meaning to look for one to get my own avatar back online.

20. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Furthermore, the way we've decided to actions - as a percentage roll each turn to see if the action succeeds, rather than a fixed timer - makes it a bit difficult to communicate how adding or removing percentage to that roll will affect it.

Say you want to increase your Forge Link action effectiveness by 50%. This is an action with an expected turn count of 3, and a per-turn percentage roll of 33.4%. Increasing that percentage chance by 50% takes it to 50.1%, and the action now takes an average of 2 turns to succeed.

Now let's take a longer action: Steal Technology. This action currently has an expected turn count of 7, with a per-turn percentage roll of 14.3%. Increasing that percentage chance by 50% takes it to 21.45%, and the action now takes an average of 4-5 turns to succeed.

Actions that take longer are affected more strongly by the same percentage increase/decrease when compared to shorter actions. And maybe that's okay? It stands to reason that 50% of a bigger number is a bigger number. But we should keep this in mind as we playtest further. If our players are getting confused by this, we should find a different way to present this information.

21. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

The obvious solution to your problem Amish is to display the expected turn count now and how much it will change with a percentage upgrade.

22. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate
To that end: Thanqol, did you have any vision as to how long research should take?
This is the wrong question, actually. Determining how long things should take bypasses the important question: the progression through the game's stages. Instead of figuring out the numbers we should think about the stages of the game and how long it takes to move through them.

Such as:

Early Game:
Feel: Gold Rush

The world is unexploited and people are snapping up the empty resources as quickly as they can. Should take 2ish hours for an experienced player.

Midgame:
Feel: Battle Lines

After all the low hanging fruit are gone then the player pauses and takes a look at the world. It's now a network of ugly entrenched positions. Early midgame is about delivering blows to targets of opportunity that are claimed but not reinforced, and also reinforcing your own positions. Late midgame is about planning and conducting large scale operations to dislodge the enemy from one region at a time. This should take 4-6 hours.

Late game:
Feel: Panicked Snowballing

Inevitably in strategy games, the player wins enough the thing starts to snowball. This is also the point when the player normally gets bored and quits before seeing it through. But instead there's a big comeback mechanic in terms of Mr. Johnson's master plan so the player feels like that there's time pressure on their snowballing and that it's all leading up to something rather than a 'you won, grats' screen. Ideally the player should be incentivised to kick Johnson as hard as possible when he's down in this stage. Should be 2-3 hours.

Endgame:
Feel: Climax and payoff

This is almost the 'tower defense' section of the game, where all your planning and preparation comes due. Changes and course corrections are done at this point but the game was won or lost in late game. This concludes with the story resolution as a satisfying comedown off an intellectual victory. One hour or so.

I'll address the other points later, but I think this was important enough to focus on now.

Have you found an alternative image hosting site? I've been meaning to look for one to get my own avatar back online.
Google free image hosting, there's literally a billion of them.

23. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate
Long overdue status update: I'm putting the finishing touches on the next playable prototype. I spent a lot of time on the AI for this one, only to realize that my time would be better spent getting something playable with two players, and I could just take the role of the AI. Anarion - and anybody else who wants a go at this - I'll be in touch with you once the game's ready.
Good work, thanks for keeping up on this.

I've noticed a strange balancing act in figuring out how long it should take labs to research/advanced research. If those actions take too long, then interactions with the Technology system will be too slow and ponderous to be any good. If these actions resolve too quickly, then the player won't ever feel the pressure of limited information. To complicate matters, the Steal Technology action is a way to basically use your opponent's research time as your own, so long as your agents don't get caught. (I'm of the opinion that Steal Technology - as a baseline - should at a minimum take as long a time to resolve as the basic Research Trait action. If stealing info is too effective, then again, no hidden information, the game goes kaput.) So you have to also balance with the Steal Tech strat in mind.
So:
- I don't think that that the technology system needs randomized % research times. It's one of the few systems that doesn't, really. It's got enough randomization in the outcome to mean that the process doesn't also need to be random.
- I don't really see a role for Steal Technology as an agent action. The AI is never going to use it effectively, and I would far prefer Agents to be wielded as offensive pieces rather than weird industrial tech boosts.
- I have been thinking about movement of pieces across the board a lot recently. It taking 5-10 turns to move a tank unit from the US to Egypt along a circuitous trade route probably isn't fun. That's just going to be micromanagey. I want the trade link checkpoints but not necessary the micro and pathing slog.

Have you played Evil Genius? What do you think about something more like how agents are deployed on the world map, transported via helicopter?

Also, if you haven't played Twilight Struggle, play Twilight Struggle, it's on Steam and is the key inspiration vector for this game.

24. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by Thanqol
This is the wrong question, actually. Determining how long things should take bypasses the important question: the progression through the game's stages. Instead of figuring out the numbers we should think about the stages of the game and how long it takes to move through them.
Sense makes. I'll focus on game length in testing for this next prototype. This one's only going to be the Technology system + a full map, so it's going to move quicker than a full game. But it should still give us some good early data.

Originally Posted by Thanqol
Good work, thanks for keeping up on this.
The last few months were a bit rough. June I was out of work, and I needed a lot more rest and down time than I realized. (I spent most of that time sick, so I didn't have much choice in the matter.) Right now, I'm slowwwwwwly adding game development to my evenings and weekends, so as not to burn myself out. Ease into a stable schedule with as little stress as possible.

Originally Posted by Thanqol
- I don't think that that the technology system needs randomized % research times. It's one of the few systems that doesn't, really. It's got enough randomization in the outcome to mean that the process doesn't also need to be random.
Way ahead of you on that one. Both actions you can take at a lab have fixed length, and no Technologies that can speed/slow that.

Originally Posted by Thanqol
- I don't really see a role for Steal Technology as an agent action. The AI is never going to use it effectively, and I would far prefer Agents to be wielded as offensive pieces rather than weird industrial tech boosts.
Sure, that's easy to disable. You're right in that it's a little incongruous with the rest of their actions, not to mention it opens up a potential can of balance worms. The looming specter of the "disregard Labs, acquire Agents, steal everything" strat terrifies me.

Originally Posted by Thanqol
- I have been thinking about movement of pieces across the board a lot recently. It taking 5-10 turns to move a tank unit from the US to Egypt along a circuitous trade route probably isn't fun. That's just going to be micromanagey. I want the trade link checkpoints but not necessary the micro and pathing slog.

Have you played Evil Genius? What do you think about something more like how agents are deployed on the world map, transported via helicopter?
Hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I haven't played that game, but a Wikipedia search showed me what you're talking about. I've been having some similar thoughts about the tedium of turn-to-turn gameplay; even with long-term pathing, you may wind up in situations where you're doing nothing but mashing End Turn. Waiting for actions to finish, waiting for units to get from point A to point B, etc. And these sorts of "well, let's just keep things simmering until it's time for me to make decisions" scenarios aren't necessarily a bad thing in strategy games. They just needs to balanced properly, such that your eventual decisions are meaningful and you're not spending dozens of turns with nothing to do. Choosing where to spawn units could cut down on that time if waiting/tedium is a problem.

Give me some time to think this over, and I should have some more organized thoughts on this.

Originally Posted by Thanqol
Also, if you haven't played Twilight Struggle, play Twilight Struggle, it's on Steam and is the key inspiration vector for this game.
I have it, haven't had a chance to play it yet. I'll make the time sooner rather than later.

25. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Forgive my ignorance, Amish, but could you not give the player a button that's like "5 turns, right now." Or perhaps "Advance me to a turn where something changes on my current board."

26. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate
I have it, haven't had a chance to play it yet. I'll make the time sooner rather than later.
So I think that the single most important thing you can do right now is play Twilight Struggle and Evil Genius for at least a little while. They're immensely influential games on my thinking and I really won't be able to communicate the depth of their thought and design with words. There's a huge amount of game feel I'm trying to emulate there and you won't understand what I'm on about without the same context.

Also Evil Genius is a classic.

Originally Posted by Anarion
Forgive my ignorance, Amish, but could you not give the player a button that's like "5 turns, right now." Or perhaps "Advance me to a turn where something changes on my current board."
This is similar to the Paradox game's 'variable length turns'. Basically there's a 1-5 game speed setting and the ability to pause at any time. Typically play goes on at Speed 5 with frequent pausing, slowing down to 2-3 during extremely tense periods requiring a lot of micromanagement.

I think it's very effective at letting a player manage their own pacing. I don't know how difficult it is to code for though.

27. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by Thanqol
- I have been thinking about movement of pieces across the board a lot recently. It taking 5-10 turns to move a tank unit from the US to Egypt along a circuitous trade route probably isn't fun. That's just going to be micromanagey. I want the trade link checkpoints but not necessary the micro and pathing slog.
I've given this some more thought, and my thoughts have settled into two, easy-to-discuss buckets:

1) In our current design, players have no control over where units spawn, what units spawn, and when units spawn. I can vaguely remember some games that may have had similar spawning mechanics, but in those games, gameplay was firmly centered around fighting for control of a few, discrete spawn points. And that doesn't sound like our game at all. Output countries are important, sure, but they're one set of targets on a big map. More to the point, this feels like design space we're leaving fallow. Just about anything else we do should offer more interesting choices and counterplay. Leaving it as it is invites long, frustrating slogs.

2) So this begs the question: Where do units spawn, then? I'm seeing a "Place Units" phase that takes place before you assign actions, but after your previous actions resolve. Once a unit is placed, it has to go by foot if it wants to travel across the map; placing tanks in America is a commitment, and if you realize next turn that it would've been better to have them in Egypt, well, that's tough cookies for you.

So if you can place newly-spawned units, where can you place them? Initially, "any controlled Output Country" felt like a logical choice, but it quickly runs into difficulties. Suppose the enemy takes control of an Output that's way isolated from the rest of their territory. You slice off any connection back to home, and you're about to close in for the kill, when they magically spawn a bunch of tanks and executives there. There's not much counterplay, nor does it feel right when the links are broken.

The answer I want to experiment with is "units can be placed in any owned Country provided that Country has a contiguous Influence Link chain reaching back to your home Superpower Country." I think this makes the system a lot more interesting. Speedy expansions can be countered by slicing the Influence Link leading back to home. You can fortify your borders by making more internal-facing Influence Links, but then that limits the number of outward-facing Influence Links you can use for expansion. With this concept on the table, it opens up other mechanics involving territory too. Suppose there's an Endgame where, say, any Country not connected to your Superpower is instantly lost, and if you don't have a solid infrastructure built up then you're screwed.

What do you think?

Originally Posted by Anarion
Forgive my ignorance, Amish, but could you not give the player a button that's like "5 turns, right now." Or perhaps "Advance me to a turn where something changes on my current board."
This is similar to the Paradox game's 'variable length turns'. Basically there's a 1-5 game speed setting and the ability to pause at any time. Typically play goes on at Speed 5 with frequent pausing, slowing down to 2-3 during extremely tense periods requiring a lot of micromanagement.

I think it's very effective at letting a player manage their own pacing. I don't know how difficult it is to code for though.
This'll take some work, but not a whole lot I think. The "End Turn" button just calls a function that runs through all the end-of-turn bookkeeping, so making something that automatically presses that button/runs that function wouldn't be that difficult.

Originally Posted by Thanqol
So I think that the single most important thing you can do right now is play Twilight Struggle and Evil Genius for at least a little while. They're immensely influential games on my thinking and I really won't be able to communicate the depth of their thought and design with words. There's a huge amount of game feel I'm trying to emulate there and you won't understand what I'm on about without the same context.

Also Evil Genius is a classic.
Roger that. I'll see what I can do.

28. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate
I've given this some more thought, and my thoughts have settled into two, easy-to-discuss buckets:

1) In our current design, players have no control over where units spawn, what units spawn, and when units spawn. I can vaguely remember some games that may have had similar spawning mechanics, but in those games, gameplay was firmly centered around fighting for control of a few, discrete spawn points. And that doesn't sound like our game at all. Output countries are important, sure, but they're one set of targets on a big map. More to the point, this feels like design space we're leaving fallow. Just about anything else we do should offer more interesting choices and counterplay. Leaving it as it is invites long, frustrating slogs.
Convincingly stated.
2) So this begs the question: Where do units spawn, then? I'm seeing a "Place Units" phase that takes place before you assign actions, but after your previous actions resolve. Once a unit is placed, it has to go by foot if it wants to travel across the map; placing tanks in America is a commitment, and if you realize next turn that it would've been better to have them in Egypt, well, that's tough cookies for you.

So if you can place newly-spawned units, where can you place them? Initially, "any controlled Output Country" felt like a logical choice, but it quickly runs into difficulties. Suppose the enemy takes control of an Output that's way isolated from the rest of their territory. You slice off any connection back to home, and you're about to close in for the kill, when they magically spawn a bunch of tanks and executives there. There's not much counterplay, nor does it feel right when the links are broken.

The answer I want to experiment with is "units can be placed in any owned Country provided that Country has a contiguous Influence Link chain reaching back to your home Superpower Country." I think this makes the system a lot more interesting. Speedy expansions can be countered by slicing the Influence Link leading back to home. You can fortify your borders by making more internal-facing Influence Links, but then that limits the number of outward-facing Influence Links you can use for expansion. With this concept on the table, it opens up other mechanics involving territory too. Suppose there's an Endgame where, say, any Country not connected to your Superpower is instantly lost, and if you don't have a solid infrastructure built up then you're screwed.

What do you think?
I think there's a lot to recommend this, but I also want to hear your thoughts after you look at both the Twilight Struggle and Evil Genius systems for moving assets around before I make a final call. If nothing else I think that the way Evil Genius manages your minions visually on the world map has an immense amount to recommend it. I've been a bit concerned about the way large groupings of units in single countries appear visually and also how large groups should 'feel' gameplay-wise and I think that visual cue goes a long way to answering both questions.

This'll take some work, but not a whole lot I think. The "End Turn" button just calls a function that runs through all the end-of-turn bookkeeping, so making something that automatically presses that button/runs that function wouldn't be that difficult.
I thought about it and came to the realization that's exactly how Paradox games work - all the things happen at the end of each month and the integers in between then are purely for the manoeuvring of military units.

29. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by Thanqol
I think there's a lot to recommend this, but I also want to hear your thoughts after you look at both the Twilight Struggle and Evil Genius systems for moving assets around before I make a final call. If nothing else I think that the way Evil Genius manages your minions visually on the world map has an immense amount to recommend it. I've been a bit concerned about the way large groupings of units in single countries appear visually and also how large groups should 'feel' gameplay-wise and I think that visual cue goes a long way to answering both questions.
I get what you're saying here, but fair warning; don't get too caught up on presentation at this stage. Visuals and general polish will help the experience immensely later on down the road, but they can't fix a broken mechanical core. We're ugly and functional until we're certain we've got a good foundation, and then we'll start working towards creating that sort of feel.

30. ## Re: Thanqol Learns To Draw Six: Stealing Time

Originally Posted by TheAmishPirate
I get what you're saying here, but fair warning; don't get too caught up on presentation at this stage. Visuals and general polish will help the experience immensely later on down the road, but they can't fix a broken mechanical core. We're ugly and functional until we're certain we've got a good foundation, and then we'll start working towards creating that sort of feel.
I'm not referring to the visuals because they look good, but because the visual design is shorthand for a very effective system of how it feels to have those pieces on the board. Does that make sense? Like, it's referring to about how disposable things should feel.

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